Is Hand Sanitizer at the Gym Killing Germs and Killing Your Chance to Lose Weight?

 

By Wendy Shmid, First Posted on Q.Equinox, September 20, 2012

There’s a whole new kind of germ warfare on the horizon, and it may be sabotaging your workout.

Movies like Contagion and headline-grabbing bacterias like MRSA don’t help assuage fears of rampant germ proliferation, but if you tend to reach for the hand sanitizer every time you touch an elevator button, doorknob, or dumbbell, curb your enthusiasm. There’s good reason to take it easy with these chemical-laden germ killers. They frequently contain triclosan, a chemical that many consider to be an obesogen — i.e. one that can potentially cause weight gain by disrupting the body’s endocrine system.

“Animal studies indicate that triclosan can affect thyroid function,” says Tom Zoeller, an endocrinologist and Professor of Biology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. “And it’s plausible that triclosan can interfere with thyroid hormones in people, though it’s not been well studied.” The chemical structure of triclosan is similar to that of thyroid hormone itself — one reason it could interfere with the body’s natural levels. Thyroid hormones control metabolism, so if you reduce thyroid function you can gain weight. Not a situation you want to inadvertently create in the process of trying to stay healthy, fit, and germ-free.

Keep Reading to determine which hand sanitizers you should be using.

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